Fall and winter vegetable gardening in Oklahoma is tricky, and anyone who tells you different is wrong or misleading. I don’t know which.
While others north of us were sowing seeds in July and August to reap a fall harvest, we were still at 103F. Oh, wait . . . we’re still at 104F today on September 3. Traditionally, August was a good time to sow fall seeds, but in the last couple of years, not so much. I’m putting in seeds for late fall crops next week, and I’m putting row covers over them as soon as the weather cools. Even though temperatures are high, I’ve been watching the forecast, and temperatures will come down. If I wanted fall lettuce instead of in winter, I needed to sow the seeds indoors under lights. I just didn’t feel like it, and that’s okay.
So, here’s what I’m going to plant next week in my Oklahoma fall vegetable garden. I ordered all of my seed from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange because I like them. Nice people saving seed for southern gardens, and no one has ever paid me a dime to say that.
Winter Bloomsdale SPINACH 5 g (67103)
Savoy Perfection CABBAGE 2 g (22107)
Bull’s Blood Beet 5g (31106)
White Egg TURNIP 3 g (29103)
Perennial Onion Sampler Mix (92505)
Asiatic and Turban Garlic Sampler (92506)
Drunken Woman LETTUCE, LOOSELEAF 0.5 g (62801)
Black-Seeded Simpson LETTUCE, LOOSELEAF 0.5 g (62102)
Susan’s Red Bibb LETTUCE, BIBB (BUTTERHEAD) 0.5 g (62306)
Capitan LETTUCE, BIBB (BUTTERHEAD) 0.5 g (62303)
Lutz Winter Keeper BEET 5 g (31109)
I’m very sad Horn’s Seed Co. is going out of business after their fire. It was the best place locally to get good seed in bulk. We are now down another local nursery. Someone in the city needs to create a new business model and offer unique plants along with working with younger, urban gardeners who love vegetables. Make gardening hip again. Okay, I’m off my soap box and back in the garden bed.
I’ll sow the lettuce and spinach. With row covers I hope to get a good crop. I’ll probably see if I can buy cabbage seedlings at Farmer’s Grain in Edmond. They have them in the spring, but because people in Oklahoma don’t think about fall and winter gardening much, they may not have any seedlings this year. I could still start some, but I’d be very behind.
Just remember to use row covers after the weather starts to get colder–if it does. I like the durability of this Garden Tunnel 10′ Guard Poly Row Cover Harvest, and I have the JWALT TunLcover Superior Plant Protector, 2-Pack 18 Foot Size. I bought it for spring, but didn’t need to use it because spring was picture perfect, and we didn’t have a late freeze.
Our changeable weather makes it very challenging to garden here anytime, but winter can be especially tricky. Some years, we have harsh and terrible winters with record breaking snowfall. Others are like no winter at all.
I’ll keep you apprised on how things go.
One more thing, before you plant, feed your soil with some type of organic mulch or fertilizer to help your plants get off to a good start. You probably grew spring and summer vegetables in this space, and the soil is now depleted of nutrients. Most vegetables are annuals, and they use a lot of nutrients. If you watered from a well, you may notice a crust has formed on top of the soil from hard water. Break it up a bit and use Back to Nature with alfalfa for the nitrogen boost. We have two months of warm weather yet, and your plants need a good start. You can get Back to Nature with alfalfa at Farmer’s Grain in Edmond and other local retailers.
Let’s try planting a fall/winter vegetable garden and see what happens. It’s gotta be easier than summer gardens. If you do, I want to suggest The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Your Own Food 365 Days a Year, No Matter Where You Live by Nikki Jabour. Her vegetable planting and harvest timetable is different from ours because she lives in Nova Scotia, she has wonderful ideas on structures and planting styles to extend the season.
It’s all big experiment, and I’m ready to give it a try. How about you?